Late afternoon finds me running along the former railroad bed in a rare kind of October sunlight — a gift of warmth and honeyed autumn light. I stop where I always do, where the transformation from railroad bed to trail hasn’t happened yet. The rusting iron bridge is covered with boards, and I’m careful there.
Where a giant hole gapes with a view of the Lamoille River below, someone has spray painted You Die Here and an arrow pointing down, as if the passerby couldn’t put that hole and a potential demise together. I stand there and affirm, Sure, that would be a bad fall.
An otter runs along the riverbank, slips beneath the water, and surfaces again. Two ducks glide slowly. I crouch at that edge for a good long while, in no particular rush to head back on that trail.
In the end, of course, there’s nothing else to do but tighten my laces. My feet crunch through the fallen leaves that are piling high, releasing that inimitable scent of broken leaf and moist soil — the smell of a New England childhood.
Such happiness there is in being
a part of all this…
while I bend to one knee to press
my hand against a broken sidewalk,
feeling the heat of that same light
that the sparrow hops over,
and that warms the cricket as it carries
its song across town in its purse.”— Ted Kooser